While hikers and walkers may have used walking sticks as long as humans walked on two legs, in the modern world, heavy wooden sticks have been largely replaced by hiking poles.
Unlike the bulky, cumbersome sticks our ancestors used to climb and cover the ground, modern trekking poles are made of lightweight, durable materials and come with comfortable grips, convenient wrist straps and specialized tips to provide the greatest possible traction. They are often very pleasant to use and offer many health benefits as well.
Benefits of foldable trekking poles
The main benefit of folding trekking poles or trekking staffs is their portability. Because they can be folded up, they take up less space. In fact, most non-folding poles are too long to fit in your pack to begin with. In addition, if you want to get to your camping destination via airplane or public transportation, you'll find it easier to pack a folding pole and store it in your luggage. They're also easier for city dwellers to use on foot, as they'll be easy to fold up when you want to go to your favorite coffee shop or to the grocery store before heading home.
In some other cases, folding poles may provide special value. For example, those who often need to keep their hands free may appreciate the ability to easily store folding trekking poles in a backpack. It may also be safer to use a folding pole (which fits in a backpack) while floating in an inflatable raft.
How do foldable trekking poles work?
Like most other trekking poles, folding poles are hollow. An elastic shock cord runs through the pole and extends from the handle to the tip. The pole is divided into two or three sections that can be separated when pulled. When separated, the internal cord keeps the sections connected, but provides enough slack that you can fold the pole.
Essentially, folding rods rely on a common engineering principle: things can become strong in one direction and weak (or collapsible) in another. In this case, the poles provide enough structural strength for the forces applied along the shaft, but they come apart easily when the ends are pulled away from each other.
How to select foldable trekking?
Although there are a few exceptions, most trekking poles are made of aluminum or carbon fiber. Both materials are perfect for trekking poles, but they do have different advantages and disadvantages. For example, aluminum poles are usually very affordable and durable, but they can be a bit heavy. Conversely, carbon fiber poles are usually very light, although they can cost a little more than aluminum poles.
A good set of grips is crucial if you want to avoid blisters and enjoy using your new poles. Most good trekking poles have ergonomically designed grips that are designed to fit your hand perfectly. However, they can be made of several different materials, including foam, cork and rubber. Rubber grips are often considered the best choice for those walking in cold weather, while cork and foam grips absorb sweat more effectively and are a better choice for those walking in hot weather.
Because they are made of different materials and designed in slightly different ways, trekking poles vary in weight. While weight should not be considered the most important consideration for those buying trekking poles, it is clearly something worth considering. Weight is a particularly important consideration for ultralight hikers and those attempting to walk very long distances.
Good trekking poles should always come with a wrist strap. In fact, you will often rely on the strap to hold the pole to you, as it is usually easiest to loosen your grip when swinging the pole forward. Make sure the poles you choose have comfortable wrist straps made of strong, durable materials.